Lunar “gold rush” could lead to conflicts on Earth

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(ORDO NEWS) — When it comes to the moon, everyone wants the same thing. Not in the sense of general high scientific goals, but in the sense of commercially profitable objects – places rich in resources. In a new study, a group of astronomers led by Martin Elvis of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Center, USA, is analyzing the presence of such sites on the lunar surface, their possible impact on relationships between key players and how to prevent potential conflicts.

Science-relevant locations on the lunar surface are also of great importance for infrastructure construction by government space agencies or commercial firms. Such places include “zones of eternal light” (areas almost constantly illuminated by sunlight, which gives access to energy) and craters in the eternal shadow of the circumpolar regions, in which water ice is found.

The number of objects of each of these two types on the Moon can be counted on one hand, and even fewer are found objects that combine these two advantages – narrow eternally illuminated annular crater walls, inside which there is water ice. For these resources, real battles will unfold in the near future, the authors say.

In addition, Elvis and his team note the presence of other important resources on the moon. Thorium and uranium, which are important as the basis of radioactive fuel, are found together in 34 regions, representing zones less than 80 kilometers each. Iron occupies more extensive areas, areas measuring 30-300 kilometers, but there are only 20 such areas on the Moon.

And another important lunar resource is the well-known helium-3 from science fiction films, which can act as fuel for thermonuclear reactors. Formed under the action of solar radiation in the rocks of the lunar surface, it currently occupies vast territories, but the highest concentrations of helium-3 are characteristic only for 8 main regions, the size of each of which does not exceed 50 kilometers.

According to the authors, key players on the moon should agree on joint programs, and then regulate, depriving potential violators of the rules of participation in such joint programs.

The study was published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.


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